From Our 2010 Archives

Women More Attracted When Men Wear Red: Study

TUESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Men looking to attract the opposite sex may want to add red to their wardrobe, a new study finds.

Researchers found that women are more drawn to males wearing the color.

"We found that women view men in red as higher in status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder," lead author Andrew Elliot, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a university news release. "And it's this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction."

He and his colleagues asked 288 female and 25 males undergraduates to look at photos of a man in which his shirt was digitally colored either red or another color. Women said the red shirt made the man appear more powerful, attractive and sexually desirable. However, it didn't make him seem more likeable, kind or sociable.

The women had the same responses when looking at a man's photo that was framed by a border of either red or white.

The study included undergraduates in the United States, England, Germany and China, and the effect in women was consistent across cultures. But the women were unaware of the reaction.

The color of the photo border or the man's shirt had no effect on males.

In many societies worldwide, red has long been associated with the rich and powerful, as evidenced by rolling out the "red carpet" at high-profile events, Elliot noted in the release. And in non-human primates, such as mandrills and gelada baboons, red is an indicator of male dominance and is expressed more intensely in alpha males. Females of these species are more likely to mate with alpha males.

"When women see red it triggers something deep and probably biologically engrained," Elliot said. "We say in our culture that men act like animals in the sexual realm. It looks like women may be acting like animals as well in the same sort of way."

The study is published in the Aug. 2 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: University of Rochester, news release, Aug. 2, 2010